Food store better option than more estates

The Co-op Public Hearing of May 4 was very well attended, but there seemed to be a large amount of confusion as to present zoning of the land that the Co-op would like to use for their new store.

Some 17 years ago, the Co-op performed due diligence and based on the recommendations of the then Central Saanich council purchased a property on West Saanich Road for a new store. A year later, the Central Saanich council rejected the next step of the Co-op application. This is the property in dispute today.

There were many people at the public hearing putting forth comments that agricultural land should not be used for stores. While I fully agree, the problem here is that this property is not zoned agricultural, rather it is zoned Rural Estate.

This weekend I set up two laptops, on one I had the Central Saanich zoning map, on the other Google’s satellite view of Central Saanich. My observation was that the great majority of Rural Estate zoned properties are not being used for agricultural purposes, but are in fact used for what the zoning implies — estates style properties. Most have a very large house, often with outbuildings, many have extensively manicured gardens, some have tennis courts, swimming pools and a few have stables and corrals.

The reality is that if the Central Saanich council rejects this proposal and in turn the Co-op gives up and sells this land, what will happen is that Central Saanich will not get more farmland, but will get a few more estate-sized houses along with the usual amenities.

Central Saanich already has many estates, it does not need a couple more.

Personally, I would much rather that Central Saanich council honour the original commitment made 17 years ago, allow the Co-op to build what has been designed as a very environmentally friendly and interesting building and continue serving the local community along with keeping existing jobs, and creating new ones.

Alex Apouchtine,

Central Saanich